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Former Ford Engineer – and Chinese Spy – Draws 6-Year Sentence

Case underscores mounting problems with Chinese industrial espionage.

by on Apr.14, 2011

Convicted of spying for the Chinese, former Ford engneer Xiang Dong Yu.

A former Ford engineer will be spending as much as six years behind bars after being convicted of stealing trade secrets with the intent of selling them to the Chinese.

Xiang Dong Yu, arrested in October 2009, will also have to pay a $12,500 fine after pleading guilty to two felony counts in U.S. District Court.

The Ford case underscores growing concerns about Chinese industrial espionage – thought the outcome stands in sharp contrast to the spy scandal that embroiled French automaker Renault and has led to the ousting of five senior executives, including the maker’s chief operating officer.

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The 49-year-old Yu worked at Ford from 1997 through 2007.  According to government prosecutors, he accepted another position with Beijing Automotive Industry Corp., in December 2006. But before notifying Ford – which routinely escorts employees out of the building once they take a competitive job – Yu copied at least 4,000 Ford documents onto an external hard drive.


Renault’s Chinese Espionage Case May Have Been “Malevolent Hoax”

Will case bring down CEO Carlos Ghosn?

by on Mar.04, 2011

The "gravity" of the situation could be severe for CEO Ghosn if the intelligence investigation clears three Renault executives.

What appeared to be a major case of China espionage may actually be nothing more than what some are now describing as a “malevolent hoax,” the result of angry office politics at French automaker Renault.

An investigation by the French equivalent of the FBI has found no evidence that Renault employees were on the payroll of Chinese spymasters.  The report that could prove seriously embarrassing to both the maker and its outspoken CEO Carlos Ghosn, whose career could now be in jeopardy, according to some observers.

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The incident made headlines, last October, when a Renault committee received an anonymous “ethical alert” indicating three of its employees might have been getting cash for leaking details of the maker’s aggressive electric vehicle program to foreign interests.  Renault – along with Japanese alliance partner Nissan – is launching an array of battery vehicles and planning to expand production to more than 500,000 vehicles a year by mid-decade.

On January 3rd, the French maker suspended three executives, one of whom sat on its management committee.  The maker also said it would take legal action, which French government officials feared might set off an economic war with China.